Get Off The Bus Concerts: Amazing Performances in Ontario’s Cottage Country

Writer Bill Farnsworth meets the former Canadian music industry couple who’ve channelled their passion for the arts to benefit the communities they love.

With the tagline “great concerts for great causes,” for the last six years Get Off the Bus Concerts have produced amazing live performances in Parry Sound, Ontario while supporting various local causes at the same time.

Owners Joe and Fatima Bamford are the former operators of a tour bus company that provided coach services to iconic musical acts such as Leonard Cohen, Elton John and The Tragically Hip.

With a little bit of influence by his fundraising professional daughter, Joe decided it would be fun to do some concerts in Parry Sound with some of the incredible artists who have travelled on the Bamford busses over the years – and give back to the community too.

The first Get Off the Bus Concert was held in Parry Sound in 2011. The show featured Newfoundland comedian Jimmy Flynn and raised money in support of the West Parry Sound Health Centre Foundation. Since then there have been a steady number of exceptional shows presented in this charming coastal town, including Wille Nelson, Pavlo, Blue Rodeo, Bruce Cockburn and Jann Arden to Parry Sound.  The Amazing Kreskin also headlined a show in Huntsville, Muskoka.

‘Get Off The Bus’ This Summer in Parry Sound & Huntsville, Muskoka

Get Off the Bus Concerts is holding two shows in Ontario’s cottage country this summer, with “Menopause: The Musical” coming to both Huntsville and Parry Sound. This critically-acclaimed musical has made millions of women laugh and connect over one of life’s more harrowing passages. Featuring the original Canadian cast comically navigating hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, not enough sex, too much sex, chocolate binges and more, this piece is set in a department store, where four women come to realize they have more in common than they ever imagined.

Having toured extensively to rave reviews across North America, the musical is staged to classic tunes from the 60s, 70s and 80s and marks the continuing tradition of summer stock theatre in Ontario’s cottage country. Not just for women, men too can join in the fun (and maybe learn a few things too).

Friday, August 25,  Menopause: The Musical comes to the Algonquin Theatre, located in the heart of historic downtown Huntsville and home to the Huntsville Festival of the Arts. Part of the Huntsville Civic Centre, the theatre has a central courtyard which features a life-size bronze statue depicting Tom Thomson, who travelled through the town several times on his way to Algonquin Park. Tickets for this show include “the VIP experience.”

Sunday, August 27 the show will be performed at the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts, located on the beautiful waters of Georgian Bay in Parry Sound. Heavy timber trusses, wood decking and natural granite from the local quarry on the walls of the concert hall provide an exceptional acoustical environment. To highlight the centre’s unique location, performances in summer are timed so that patrons can go outside and view the stunning sunsets over Georgian Bay.

Watch for more ‘great concerts for great causes’ in Parry Sound and Muskoka from Get Off The Bus Concerts. Following along on their Facebook page for upcoming show details, and check their website often.

And don’t miss the spectacular “Country Cruise” aboard the famous Island Queen in Parry Sound, Ontario on September 9, 2017. Featuring Canadian music sensation Marshall Dane, with special guests Paul Lagendyk and Sean Cotton. 

Feature image of Blue Rodeo performing at the Bobby Orr Communtiy Centre in Parry Sound by LME Photography.